The Ghost in the Shell remake is a glossy and dystopian Hollywood thriller about a female cyborg, inspired by the 1989 Japanese manga of the same name and its 1995 anime adaptation. After a terrorist attack left Major's parents dead and broke her body beyond fix, she's chosen for an experimental counter-terrorism program funded by the all-powerful Hanka Corp., in which her brain is lifted into a virtually un-killable cyborg body.
The stony-faced Takeshi Kitano might speak Japanese as Major's boss, but her fellow operatives are a multi-ethnic bunch who speak English.
On a minor side note, it was too bad they did not choose to stick with the San Miguel Pale Pilsen beer Major and Batou drank in the anime.
Scarlett Johansson plays the Major, a human-robot hybrid who works as a counter-cyberterrorist officer. There are explosive action scenes involving cars, trucks, helicopters, and big guns.
Turns out someone is trying to kill officials and scientists associated with Hanka Corp. A mysterious figure called Kuze (Michael Pitt) has been hacking various robots and turning them against the powerful company. The plot is unsophisticated, with a twist you can see from a mile away. "The story stumbles in the third act and doesn't fully bring its talking points to a satisfying conclusion, but Ghost in the Shell's successes outshadow its problems". The city has plenty of dark, seedy corners, too, with all manner of yakuza-looking desperadoes scurrying about. Notably, the 35-year-old "Blade Runner" looks vastly better than this latest Hollywood cheese product.
In the near future, Major (Scarlett Johansson) is the first of her kind: a human who is cyber-enhanced to be a ideal soldier devoted to stopping the world's most risky criminals. Her only human component is her software-amplified brain, and pieces of her body are removed and replaced as if she were a Lego contraption.More news: Don't Panic, File a Tax Extension to Buy More Time
In this image released by Paramount Pictures, Scarlett Johansson, left, and Michael Pitt appear in a scene from, "Ghost in the Shell".
Still, it should also be noted that the original film, in which Major fights in a nude bodysuit, is not without its own issues of representation. In addition to tracking baddies, she's on a mission to find herself, as her origins are cloudy; as a human, she remembers being on a refugee boat with her family before it was sunk by terrorists, but nothing else. Motoko is in the sunken place, and it's only through (literally) discarding her race as an Asian woman and (literally) embodying whiteness that she can become superhuman and transcend identity. Feeling ever more removed from her "ghost", she's cut off from her memories. Though she is flanked by the Section 9 team, the majority of them play a minimal role, with only Batou, Aramaki (Beat Takeshi), Togusa (Chin Han) and Ladriya (Danusia Samal) getting much screentime. As a cyborg, she's not concerned about how she looks or how people interpret her; she's all business.
In case you miss it the first go-round, that little bit of philosophy is repeated in voice-over as the story wraps up.
All the philosophical themes are presented but feel oddly redacted to a point that, by the third act, the film seemed nearly unwilling to delve deeper into a proper existential discussion about identity and duality or humanity and technology.
In the end, that's all that counts.